10 Ways to Train Your Brain to Think Different

by Akbar Jaffer
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Innovation means identifying something that’s not working, something not solving the actual problem completely or something not working optimally and building a better mouse trap and disrupting a category or an industry. New solutions are coming to market daily but only a handful of them actually become big and successful and change the world for the better, or what I call, real innovation. In order to come up with real world-changing innovations requires thinking differently, challenging status quo, connecting the dots, thinking super critically, and being bold and daring. In my research I find that people who are successful serious innovators didn’t just wake up one day and felt their brain swell up with ideas.  It took practice; practice in training their brain, thinking through ideas, trying ideas and failing; thinking differently. Here are 10 Ways to Train Your Brain to Think Different.

  1. Next time you fill out a ballot, start from the end and work yourself backwards.
  2. Read something that shares a perspective or holds a position that you know you will disagree with.
  3. Pick a random topic you know nothing about and research it thoroughly.
  4. Pick a mainstream / common product (like toothpaste/toothbrush, car’s turn signal, a knife – you get the idea) and write 5 to 10 problems with it.
  5. Eat at a restaurant of a cuisine you have never tried before. Read up on the region the cuisine from beforehand.
  6. Watch an episode or two of the “How It’s Made” show.
  7. Learn and use 5 features of your smartphone you have never used before or didn’t even know about.
  8. Learn a completely new skill to the point where you can teach it to somebody else.
  9. Take on a brand new hobby and read as much about it as possible
  10. Learn how to play a musical instrument


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